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Policing - a gendered experience? : the influence of socialisation and gender identity on the choice of a career in policing


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Stewart, BA 2010 , 'Policing - a gendered experience? : the influence of socialisation and gender identity on the choice of a career in policing', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Few occupations have been so fully defined as masculine and as resistant to the
integration of women as policing (Martin 1996). Despite nearly 100 years of female
involvement women officers continue to contest negative stereotypes that present an
image of women as unsuitable for police work. This research examines the
contextual influences on constables' choice of policing as a career with an emphasis
on female constables. Firstly, the research investigates whether there is a
relationship between perceptions of policing as a suitable career option and
individual socialisation. The primary factor identified in the literature as influencing
career choice is gender socialisation - within the family, from significant others,
through educational institutions and within the workplace. This factor is related to
the development of personal attributes such as self-esteem and perceptions of
gender-appropriate activities. Further, the research examines whether a
policewoman's gender identity influences her experience of policing. A conceptual
framework was developed integrating Bourdieu's (1990) concepts of 'habitus'
'field' and 'culture', Connell's (2002) concept of 'negotiated gender' and
Messerschmidt's (2002) concept of situated gender performance. The research was
conducted within Western Australian, Victorian and Tasmanian police services
using a mixed methods approach: that is, a survey distributed to both male and
female police constables; interviews with female police constables and observations
in the police workplace. The findings suggest that there are more similarities than
differences between male and female officers. Although different socialisation
factors are involved, both male and female officers were found to have low
attachment to stereotypical gender expectations and similar levels of self-esteem.
Overall, female officers had higher levels of education and provided more evidence
of leadership potential than their male counterparts. In interviews and observations
it was found that while police culture is influential on policing practice, female
officers are negotiating gender and using agency to change the way policing is
performed. These findings have implications for the development of recruitment
and retention strategies for police services and contribute to a sociological
understanding of the relationship between gender socialisation, career choice and
performance of gender in a masculine workplace.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Stewart, BA
Keywords: Policewomen, Conformity in the work place
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2010 the author

Additional Information:

Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references. Contents: Introduction -- Ch.1_Setting the scene -- Ch. 2_Socialisation, identiry and career choice -- Ch. 3_Agency, gender socialisation and performativity of gender -- Ch. 4_Methodology and methods -- Ch. 5_The influence of institutional structures on gender socialisation and career choice -- Ch. 7_Doing gender/doing policing -- Ch. 8_Discussion and conclusion

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